Todd Sammons saw baseball become a game again for the Johnstown-Monroe High School team.
The Johnnies beat Loudon-ville 5-4 on May 13 in the program's final MBC contest and then stopped at a fast-food restaurant on the way home. Sammons likened the experience to youth players showing the care-free joy of postgame camaraderie.
"We bought them all a hamburger and a bag of fries and they were all on top of the world," said Sammons, who was serving as interim coach. "With everything going on in the past week, it was great to get that win, and to see them laughing and smiling. You would have thought we had bought them all steak dinners."
The victory came in the team's first game after second-year coach Anthony Cleveland resigned May 9. Interim school district superintendent Thomas Slater said Cleveland was involved in "an incident that we thought was unprofessional."
Junior Clayton Bullard (C) doubled and singled and had three RBI against the Redbirds as the Johnnies finished 6-8 in the league to tie Loudonville for fourth behind co-champions Fredericktown and Northridge (12-2). Sophomore Andrew Hollis was the winning pitcher, senior Scott Sammons (OF) had two singles and an RBI and junior David Schaller (INF) had an RBI single.
The season ended for the Johnnies a day later when they lost 5-4 at 13th-seeded West Jefferson in the first round of the Division III district tournament. Johnstown, which was the 17th seed, finished 9-17 overall.
Junior Zach LaRue struck out seven, walked three and surrendered three earned runs while taking the loss. Senior Preston Hiles (OF) singled twice and drove in a run, Schaller had a double and two RBI and junior Harrison Johnson (OF/INF) drove in two runs.
"We have had a lot of adversity lately, and I'm proud of the way the kids were able to come back and stand up to the challenge," coach Sammons said. "Zack pitched a heck of a game, but we gave them nine outs in the (three-run) first inning.
"We went stagnant in the middle innings, both teams did, and strikeouts killed us."
Softball team falls in second round
The softball team finished 13-14 overall after losing at fifth-seeded North Union 11-1 in six innings May 15 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
"We just weren't aggressive," coach Steve Smith said. "It was like (the Lions) came out and said, 'If you don't want to (take control), we will.' "
Maddi Lusk struck out five and walked two while taking the loss. The 10th-seeded Johnnies committed six errors.
Senior Keymell Cartwright (3B) and junior Ashley Bush (2B) both doubled and junior Meghan Gall (OF) singled.
On May 13 in the first round, the host Johnnies defeated 19th-seeded Mount Gilead 7-3 as freshman Erin McConnell (C) had a home run, two doubles and three RBI. Senior Lauren Baldwin (OF) had a triple and two RBI and Gall had an RBI double.
Johnstown lost its MBC finale 10-1 on May 14 at Loudonville to finish third (8-6) in the league behind Northridge (13-1) and the Redbirds (9-5).
Track teams set for district meet
The boys and girls track and field teams compete in the Division II, district 1 meet Tuesday, May 21, Wednesday, May 22, and Saturday, May 25, at Westerville South.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 30 and June 1 at Lexington.
Last season, the girls scored 66 points in the 13-team district 2 meet to place fifth behind champion Columbus School for Girls (129). Senior Kendall Colvin won the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches) and sophomore Elizabeth Blenk placed fourth (4-8) in the event, and the 1,600-meter relay of senior Marissa Sheets, junior Tanner Jakeway and 2012 graduates Stephanie Loshbough and Lizzy Wisma placed fourth (4 minutes, 18.32 seconds).
The boys team finished ninth (22) in district 1 behind champion Eastmoor Academy (160). Junior Alex Workman won the pole vault (11-0) and was the only member of the boys team to advance to regional.
On May 14 in the MBC meet, the girls scored 133.5 points to finish second behind Fredericktown (145) and ahead of host Loudonville (132), Northridge (106.5), Centerburg (55), Danville (44), East Knox (25) and Utica (9).
The boys team was eighth (15) behind Fredericktown (130), Utica (124.5), Centerburg (108), Loudonville (92.5), East Knox (76), Northridge (62.5) and Danville (46.5).
The 800 relay of Jakeway, junior Kylie Workman, Blenk and Sheets won in 1:52.9 and the 3,200 relay of junior Jessica Turner, junior Taylor Thomas, freshman Grace Mast and junior McCalah Mast was runner-up in 10:47.8.
The 1,600 relay of Jakeway, freshman Abi LaRoche, Kylie Workman and Sheets was third in 4:23.6.
Colvin was second in the high jump (5-2). Blenk was runner-up in the 300 hurdles (49.76), third in the long jump (15-4 1/2) and fourth in the high jump (4-8).
Sheets was second in the 200 (27.5) and 400 (59.65).
Placing third were senior Abby Smith in the shot put (29-7) and Jakeway in the 100 (13.18). Finishing fourth were McCalah Mast in the 3,200 (13:19.8), Kylie Workman in the 400 (1:03.79) and freshman Alaina Morrison in the pole vault (7-0).
For the boys, Alex Workman was third in the pole vault (11-6).